Iraq PM pauses security crackdown

Nuri al-Maliki issues order for army to hold back raids so opponents can disarm.

    Iraqi government forces have maintained a strong presence in Basra in recent days [AFP]
    The clashes have eased since al-Sadr, a populist Shia leader, ordered members of his armed group to stay off the streets on Sunday.
    Bid for support
    Al-Maliki's statement also said that the families of civilians who lost relatives in the fighting would be compensated, as well as those who have suffered material losses.
    Lamis Andoni, Al Jazeera's Middle East analyst, said al-Maliki was trying to win support from those living in Basra.
    "Maliki is trying to contain the damage to his reputation to regain support among the Basra residents," she said.
    "He could not win militarily, so now he is trying to minimise his political losses."
    'Fighters' killed
    A US military statement released on Friday said that Iraqi government forces had killed seven fighters in continuing clashes in Basra on Thursday.
    Sixteen people were also detained in the Iraqi security raids, the US military statement said.
    A man suspected of leading fighters in Basra to fight against coalition forces is among those held.

    "Intelligence reports have linked the man to the kidnapping and murder of Iraqi Army and Isof [a division within the Iraqi military] soldiers," the statement said.
    "He is also believed to be involved in oil smuggling and foreign fighter networks."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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